Saturday, June 26, 2010

Il buon dottore Bigatti

Dr. Ottaviano Bigatti and his wife Laura Pane came to Giusvalla near the end of the 19th century from Piemonte. For a tiny village like Giusvalla, it was a rare blessing to have an experienced doctor like Dr. Bigatti in their midst. The Bigatti family settled into their new home at No. 30 Via Montenotte, right along the modest Piazza Anselmi. The property included a private garden and a separate kitchen and cold shed, and the first floor of the two story house was used as the office and examination room of Dr. Bigatti. The house was one room deep, so as you entered the small central foyer on the first floor there was a room on either side, and a winding staircase that led to a second floor landing, with a bedroom on each side. It was considered an extremely comfortable home in comparison to the rustic farms and shacks that dotted the countryside.

In spite of his reported enthusiasm for vino rosso, Dr. Bigatti was said to be a first rate doctor and surgeon. His services were highly sought throughout Giusvalla and the surrounding towns, it is said he would travel through the worst snow storm to call on his patients who required medical attention. Dr. Bigatti’s wife, “ra Madama” Laura, became the maestra at the little schoolhouse in Giusvalla. The Bigattis had two children: son, Gino, who became a chemist and daughter, Giovanna, who took her mother’s place as the maestra at the school in Giusvalla – a career that she held for almost her entire life and whose students still remember her fondly. Both the Bigatti children lived as adults with their parents and never married. The Bigatti household also included the girls that the doctor employed to help with the housework and cooking – Marì dei Ninoni and Carmelina della Casùrera. Marì worked for the Bigatti family until she married her husband Gianèn and moved to Taranco and Carmelina remained in the services of the family right up until the doctor’s death.

After the death of Dr. Bigatti, his house was purchased by the family of my cousin Enzo – the old examination room was converted to a kitchen and his office was made into a living room. Dr. Bigatti bequeathed his beloved maid Carmelina a small apartment that adjoined the main house. Her daughter Emma continues to live in the apartment today, with her daughter Giovanna and granddaughter Simona.

The Bigatti family – Dr. Ottaviano, Madama Laura, Gino the chemist and Maestra Giovanna – are all now just another memory in Giusvalla lore. They rest together in the little cemetery in Giusvalla.

In the photo: il dottore Ottaviano Bigatti and his house

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